Unions outraged as LeasePlan introduces vaccination obligation for staff
LeasePlan’s decision to require staff members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has led to significant controversy in the Netherlands, with labour unions arguing that the company has crossed a line, and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge saying the requirement goes against Dutch law.
LeasePlan: Staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19
Multinational fleet management company LeasePlan announced on Monday that it would like all employed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to the office. The requirement has been introduced for all employees, including the 1.000 members of staff at the company’s headquarters, which are based in Amsterdam.
The news sparked outrage across sectors, as the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) argues the rule is crossing a line. “Compulsion is not allowed, but indirect coercion is also not allowed,” vice-chairman Kitty Jong told NOS Radio 1 Journaal. “Whether you check it or not, telling your employees ‘you can only come to the office if you have been vaccinated’ is a form of indirect coercion.”
LeasePlan says the rule is only enforced for staff members who actually wish to work from the office, and that the company does not require employees to stop working from home. They also point out that exceptions will be made for those unable to receive the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons, and say that workers won’t be required to present proof of their vaccination status.
De Jonge: Dutch law doesn't support mandatory vaccination
De Jonge has emphasised time and time again that the Netherlands will not introduce a mandatory vaccination rule, pointing out that the government’s coronavirus emergency law does not support mandatory vaccination. "An employer may not impose a vaccination obligation," De Jonge said on Monday afternoon.
However, the Health Minister has shown sympathy for companies who consider enforcing such a rule in order to protect the health of their staff. There are “logical” dilemmas, he says: “An employer wants to create a safe environment for customers, including other colleagues, or as a child, you probably want to know whether the nurse who takes care of your elderly mother has been vaccinated.”
LeasePlan says the rule is necessary because the Dutch government has refused to provide any concrete answers about being able to work safely in the future. “There is no clarity from the government,” chairman Tex Gunning says.”So we are going to look at what is in the interest of our employees. And we think it is in the interest of employees' health to go back to the office." Other companies, including Facebook and Uber, have implemented similar rules in their American offices.
Thumb: Cineberg via Shutterstock.